A new bill in California if passed would require all produce that has been irrigated with fracking waste water to have warning labels. Assemblyman Mike Gatto introduced the bill, and it will be considered as part of the Legislature’s Special Session on health.
Some crops are being irrigated with oil-field waste water from hydraulic fracturing, also known as ‘fracking.’
It is being done under the banner of water conservation, but few consumers are aware of the potential health issues from consuming produce irrigated by contaminated water.
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Gatto’s office wrote in a press release: “Some crops are being irrigated with oil-field waste water from hydraulic fracturing, (otherwise known as ‘fracking’). It is being done under the banner of water conservation, but ‘few consumers are aware of the potential health issues from consuming produce irrigated by contaminated water.'”
The bill requires the simple label “Produced using recycled or treated oil-field waste water” where applicable. Alternatively, retailers of produce that is not separately packaged would need to place a conspicuous label where the food is displayed for sale.
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“No one expects their lettuce to contain heavy chemicals from fracking waste water,” said Gatto. “Studies show a high possibility that recycled oil-field waste water may still contain dangerous chemicals, even after treatment.”
According to Huffington Post, federal officials, environmentalists, and the petroleum industry remain intensely divided on how safe fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is. Debates over fracking largely revolve around whether the practice contaminates nearby groundwater, but an increase in farmers hydrating their crops with treated, previously injected water purchased from oil companies has aroused new concern.
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“Consumers have a basic right to make informed decisions when it comes to the type of food that ends up on the family dinner table,” explained Gatto. “Labeling food that has been irrigated with potentially harmful or carcinogenic chemicals, such as those in recycled fracking water, is the right thing to do.”
Huffington Post added: “A report released last month by the California Council on Science and Technology did not discover strong evidence of dangerous chemicals in the recycled water—but it also found that state regulators did not have an adequate testing process, and that there was ‘not any control in place to prevent [contamination] from happening.'”